Everything from lectures to field trips is included in the online Trees and Shrubs course

School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences faculty member Mike Fraser worked hard to provide the same learning experience online as in-class instruction, offering everything from audio lectures to field trips in the Trees and Shrubs (FSTY 50) course.

Mike Fraser

This online course features audio lectures, comprehensive instructional PowerPoint slides with audio, and utilizes a manual created years ago that includes working space for notetaking. It also incorporates actual or virtual field trips, whichever the student prefers!

Each student may conduct field trips in their current home community using local rail trails, conservation areas, provincial parks, country roads, or even their yard. Mike has produced 17 provincial maps to help students locate possible field trip locations across the province. For students who need or prefer to stay home, Mike created virtual field trips using Google Maps – Street View so students can field trip in the comfort of their own home.

“This is a way better course now, but it will never replace face-to-face!” said Mike, who thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of thinking differently to create and deliver a rich and rewarding experience for students. “I’m going to continue using much of the work I have created the next time the course is delivered face-to-face.”

PowerPoint slide from a class activity

Ecosystem Management Technician student Noah Opper is pleased with the in-depth preparation work Mike has made for the Trees and Shrubs course. “I was very skeptical of how well this course would go online,” Noah shared. “However, after having completed the first lecture, my mind is at ease. I found that the layout was simple yet informative. I look forward with excitement for the rest of the course!”

Mike acknowledges his colleagues for their support in adapting this course, including Dan Bennett for setting up his computer for working and accessing files remotely, and Barb Elliot and Jason Kerr for their willingness to receive and review Mike’s ideas and work.

Mike encourages students to be engaged, committed, adaptable and motivated to get the most from their learning experience, whether in-person or online. He stresses that communication is critical for students with online learning and recommends students stay connected by communicating with faculty throughout the term.